Post Mortem, Chapter One

This is Ales Hemsky, who I think was the MVP for the Edmonton Oilers this season. Other candidates: Mathieu Garon and Shawn Horcoff.

Bill James Baseball Abstracts were fun because he always seemed to wait awhile after a season and then find a theme in which to frame each year.

This season is easy to frame for the Edmonton Oilers. Vincent Furnier wrote a song about it (Department of Youth) and injuries gave the kids massive at-bats and by the stretch run they’d learned to lay off the splitter and identify dead-red enough to drastically improve the team batting average.

Let’s start with the forwards and their performance at even strength. Here are the Desjardins numbers for “points-per-60″ at 5×5 from his exceptional site:

  1. Horcoff 2.59
  2. Nilsson 2.37
  3. Hemsky 2.36
  4. Cogliano 2.28
  5. Brodziak 2.09
  6. Glencross 1.97
  7. Gagner 1.96
  8. Pisani 1.55
  9. Reasoner 1.46
  10. Penner 1.34
  11. Stortini 1.24
  12. Stoll .76

I’ve included the C-Bus numbers for Glencross because I can’t find where he splits them out and it makes for an even dozen. Now, aside from Stoll’s nasty season, we see that Dustin Penner was no screaming hell in this category and that Kyle Brodziak is a dandy based on his first full season. Gagner’s number was 1.80 at the end of November so he was pretty consistent in this are all season long (although the results going the other way changed some). Cogliano had a very nice rookie season, as we look closer and from different angles it was just so good. Horcoff had a fine year until the injury, Hemsky was Hemsky and Robert Nilsson got results consistently after coming back from that minor league stint.

However, how difficult were the minutes played, by player? If Hemsky managed that number against softer competition than Nilsson, then he’d hardly be more valuable. Correct? And, as dreadful as Stoll’s season was, perhaps he was doing some heavy lifting? Now let’s post these players in terms of “difficulty” of opposition, from toughest to easiest:

  1. Stoll
  2. Hemsky
  3. Reasoner
  4. Penner
  5. Horcoff
  6. Pisani
  7. Gagner
  8. Nilsson
  9. Brodziak
  10. Cogliano
  11. Glencross
  12. Stortini

The players who ranked top 5 in both categories: Hemsky, Horcoff. The black-white award goes to Stoll who played against the toughest competition and didn’t get much done offensively. Gagner ranks 7th in both categories, no idea what that means.

Finally, what about quality of linemates? If Stoll was playing with partners 9-12 then maybe we’d need to have a closer look at the poor results? Here they are, from best linemates to worst:

  1. Gagner
  2. Penner
  3. Hemsky
  4. Horcoff
  5. Cogliano
  6. Nilsson
  7. Stoll
  8. Brodziak
  9. Pisani
  10. Glencross
  11. Stortini
  12. Reasoner

So this puts things in perspective. For instance, Brodziak got solid EV results while playing against soft opposition and mid-quality teammates. Hemsky drove some nice results playing tough opposition and having some good players to his left. Penner got subpar results playing with good linemates against what was usually the other club’s second line.

Tsk, tsk.

Based on all that info, here’s how I would list their seasons in terms of EV quality:

  1. Hemsky- Great EV results, 1line, heavy lifting.
  2. Horcoff- Great EV results, 2line, average opposition.
  3. Nilsson- Great EV results, 2line, softer opposition.
  4. Brodziak- Great EV results, 3line, softer opposition.
  5. Cogliano- Great EV results, 2line, soft parade.
  6. Reasoner- Average EV results, 4line, heavy lifting.
  7. Glencross- Solid EV results, 4line, soft parade.
  8. Pisani- Average EV results, 3line, average opposition.
  9. Gagner- Solid EV results, 1line, softer opposition.
  10. Stortini- Average EV results, 4line, soft parade.
  11. Stoll- Poor EV results, 3line, heavy lifting.
  12. Penner- Average EV results, 1line, average opposition.

This is my ranking, I’m certain some would put Horcoff higher and wonder how he can play the second hardest group in terms of opposition (I suspect it’s pretty close and there is danger in making those kinds of calls based on Gabriel’s numbers). The players I had the hardest time slotting were Reasoner, Stortini and Gagner but we’re just talking anyway.

One more note: Looking at Stoll’s season I think maybe he was a human sacrifice to the department of youth this season. I’m certain others have thought of it and do recall reading it somewhere (IOF?) but that’s basically what we’re seeing here.

I know they won’t start next season with this 12, but if they did one could reasonably argue there’s enough voltage to make the second season.

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9 Responses to "Post Mortem, Chapter One"

  1. Asiaoil says:

    The guy that Stoll “should” compare to on this team given his salary is Horcoff – but as you show – there really isn’t any comparison at all. Pull his PP time which can easily be replaced at a similar rate by others on the roster and he’s an over-paid 3rd liner that gets mediocre results against tough oppostion. He’s proven to be not good enough either offensively or defensively to be worth the coin going forward.

  2. jon k says:

    Interesting analysis. Certainly helps to frame this the forwards’ EV aspect of the past season. Would have liked to see how things turned out if Horcoff was healthy all year long.

  3. Mr DeBakey says:

    Horcoff had to play softer minutes due to Penner methinks.
    {Thus leaving Stoll & Reasoner to carry the piano].
    The Oilers learned the Lupul lesson, Getzlaff’s former wingers need an intermediate step or two.

    Some other Pts/60 for comparison:
    MARTIN HAVLAT – 2.61
    DAVID BOOTH – 2.34
    MATT MOULSON – 2.21
    MARTIN STRAKA – 2.06
    ERIK COLE – 2.03
    JACK SKILLE – 1.82
    OLLI JOKINEN – 1.76
    PAUL GAUSTAD – 1.58
    JEFF CARTER – 1.40
    RENE BOURQUE – 1.24

  4. Jonathan says:

    Maybe you’re going to do this later, but this page just ranks offensive performance 5 on 5, taking into account linemates and quality of opposition, correct? Wouldn’t GF/60 and GA/60 give us a better read on team performance when these boys are on the ice?

  5. Black Dog says:

    Good stuff LT and nice additional comments Mr. D.

    Got into a disagreement on another site with a guy who wants the Oil to get Jokinen. I believe there were a couple of weeks left in the season and the Panthers were pretty well done and Jack Martin (done as well probably) pointed the finger directly at the captain – at that point he had no goals at ES in 19 games.

    Poor poor stuff.

  6. RiversQ says:

    Jonathan said…
    Wouldn’t GF/60 and GA/60 give us a better read on team performance when these boys are on the ice?

    I’ll echo this point. If you’re looking at EV results, then the value of GF/GA probably supercedes the scoring rates IMO.

    In general, point rates probably aren’t great except on the PP where the chances of a GA are pretty flukey. Now, of course, if you’re using errors as well then you’re a freaking magician.

  7. DBO says:

    Mirtle just posted Gilbert re-signed. Press conference 11 am.

  8. Bruce says:

    Interestiong analysis, LT. I did, however, find this to be an odd comment:

    Hemsky drove some nice results playing tough opposition and having some good players to his left. Penner got subpar results playing with good linemates against what was usually the other club’s second line.

    Hemsky and Penner were linemates for what, 80% of the season? Most of it, for sure; I can’t think of any two linemates who played together as much, cuz the kids (12, 13, 46, 51, 89) were all over the place for the first half, and most other combos I can think of (10-83, 14-16, any two of 18-19-34) were split up by injury/illness. (Does anybody track this stuff?)

    Among forwards Hemsky and Penner rank 2-3 on the team (behind Gagner) for QUALTEAM and 2-4 for QUALCOMP (behind Stoll, sandwiching Reasoner, just ahead of Horcoff). So to characterize one as playing tough opp and the other as playing against 2nd line is off the mark.

    Penner did of course play all 82 while Hemsky missed 8 games, and there was that little experiment of Dustin at centre, but for the most part it was 27-83 with first 10, briefly 19, and finally 16, the three guys who round out the top 5 for QUALCOMP. 89 got spotted in there a little as well.

    I agree with Jonathan and RiversQ that GF/GA rates are an important part of this discussion. By all means put that in context with the QUALTEAM and QUALCOMP data, but a guy like Penner can contribute in positive ways to a GF without showing up on the scoresheet. It’s particularly interesting to compare GF/GA for Hemsky and Penner, the guys you ranked at the top and bottom of the table:

    Hemsky: +46/-50
    Penner: +46/-50


    Looking further at BtN stats, I see where your lowest rated forward, Penner, was the only full-season Oiler to post a positive Corsi number (GlenX +5.4, Penner +1.4, Hemsky -0.8, Horcoff -2.0, Nilsson -2.5, all others below -5). Am I to conclude you don’t put a lot of stock in this particular column, LT?

  9. Bruce says:

    A little more on quality of competition (QC) vs. teammate (QT). I noticed on the Oilers there was a far greater range in the latter than the former, and looking at BtN stats leaguewide that is certainly the case generally.

    Considering players with 60 or more GP, the range across the league for QT is +0.61 to -0.67, while that of QC is just +0.17 to -0.21. I would ascribe that to coaches having much greater control over their own line combinations than they do about what the opponent might do. This is doubly true on the road, but applies to many on-the-fly situations and the occasional icing faceoff.

    It’s logical when you think about it: a guy like (for example!) Zack Stortini could pretty much go the entire season without ever playing with Horcoff or Hemsky, but would spend some time against the other teams’ top lines, sometimes by MacT’s design but more often by the other coach’s response.

    Also, the same guys might stay together for months while the opponent changes nightly, and even a desired match-up would feature guys of different ratings one night to the next.

    Returning to the Oilers forwards, while LT correctly pointed out that both QC and QT are important and listed the Oilers rankings in each category, it might be interesting to consider the actual numbers on BtN. So here’s a list of those twelve forwards by QT – QC, deriving “Quality of Matchup” where a + number means “soft” matchups and a – is tougher:

    Player: QT / QC = QM
    Gagner: +0.14/-0.01 = +0.15
    Penner: +0.10/+0.03 = +0.07
    Horcoff: +0.05/+0.02 = +0.03
    Hemsky: +0.08/-0.08 = even
    Cogliano: -0.06/-0.03 = -0.03
    Nilsson: -0.08/-0.01 = -0.07
    Glencross: -0.15/-0.05 = -0.10
    Brodziak: -0.14/-0.02 = -0.12
    Stortini: -0.18/-0.06 = -0.12
    Pisani: -0.14/+0.02 = -0.16
    Stoll: -0.08/+0.09 = -0.17
    Reasoner: -0.24/+0.06 = -0.30

    Which shows you how far MacT went to protect Gagner while throwing 16, 34 and esp. 19 to the wolves. That Gagner still wound up with -14 at ES (only Reasoner at -17 and Stoll at -23 were worse among forwards) suggests to me that he is the one who should be listed as Oilers least effective forward at evens. On the plus side of the ledger, GlenX and Stortini had a nice goal differential (+7 and +3 respectively) despite facing competition that was better than their own linemates. (Or so BtN rankings say)

    I suppose one could bugger around with weighted averages like QT * 4 and QC * 5 to account for the number of each on the ice, but I would have to have a lot more faith in the original values before bothering with that. The above quick-and-dirty method is good enough to provide some interesting insights.

    To complete the thought, here’s the same rating system for the D:

    Defenceman: QT / QC = QM
    Greene +0.01/-0.08 = +0.09
    Grebeshkov: +0.03/-0.01 = +0.04
    Gilbert: +0.02/+0.05 = -0.03
    Pitkanen: -0.03/+0.03 = -0.06
    Smid: -0.12/+0.01 = -0.13
    Staios: -0.11/+0.05 = -0.16
    Souray: -0.15/+0.05 = -0.20

    … which goes a long way to explaining why Staios and Smid had such shitty +/- ratings, and also gives a little insight into how much responsibility MacT was loading on Souray, even outside of special teams.

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